Guitar care is important. And thinking about how to store a guitar properly is certainly not only prudent, but also necessary if you want to ensure that your instrument is adequately protected. So in the following article – alongside the two videos below – we will be discussing the best way to store guitars long term and short term.
I learned guitar on a cheapo classical acoustic guitar. It was a gift from somebody but it couldn’t have cost more than $50 when it was new. That didn’t matter though, I was grateful for my first instrument and at that point in time, you could have given me a $5,000 guitar and I wouldn’t have appreciated it any more than my beat up run-of-the-mill acoustic.
So, it wasn’t for a lack of care, but rather laziness or, I guess, unawareness that I really didn’t think about what to do or where to put my guitar when I wasn’t playing it. Therefore, it ended up lying on my bed or leaning against a piece of furniture, the wall or a door. With undesired consequences, of course. I can’t tell you how many times that guitar slammed on the floor. Fortunately, it somehow survived my abuse, but it certainly didn’t do it any good. Only later on I realized the damage I had done. Specifically to the neck. And that had a direct impact on things such as action and tonality.
I also remember my first ‘real’ electric guitar. ‘Real’ in a sense that I plunked down a good amount of cash. It was an Ibanez Artstar. A beautiful instrument and I still have it. It is in almost perfect condition which is remarkable, because I bought this guitar in 1990. However, I got really lucky. I remember putting it on the backseat of my car, of course, without any protection, such as a guitar case or gig bag. I had to stop short and inevitably it landed on the floor of the car. Thankfully, all it did was a little chip on the headstock. Nonetheless, I was livid because my previously pristine guitar lost its immaculate appearance. The next day I bought a hard shell case.
Alright, that was just to give you some context. Let’s talk about the precautions you can take to prevent – or at least mitigate – the risk of getting your guitar damaged, or worse.
How to store a guitar long term
‘Long term’ can mean a lot of things. Let’s agree were talking about a situation where you know nobody will play the instrument for a longer stretch of time such as a few months or years. Instead of just having it taking up space and collecting dust, etc., you just want to get it out of the way while making sure it’s protected.
There are three specific things I’d like you to think about:
1. A guitar case that fits your guitar
The best protection for your guitar is a hard-shell case that fits your instrument. Should be straight forward, right? But here is an important aspect. How to store a guitar in a case matters! So, I just said it should fit your instrument. And that’s very important. You need to ensure that case interior aligns with the design and body of your guitar. It should be snug, but not too tight. There are all different kinds of cases. The best protection offer hard-shells, no doubt. If you don’t already have one for your guitar, I recommend that you make the investment. But for those of you who can’t or don’t want to make that purchase, the question is: how to store a guitar without a case? Well a soft shell cover, or gig bag, is better than nothing. And those are obviously not nearly as costly. But the fact remains, ultimately doesn’t offer the same protection as the hard shell cases.
2. Temperature controlled environment
Objects react to changes in temperature. Materials contract or expand. Obviously, that could have a negative effect on your instrument. So make sure that wherever you going to store your guitar, the place is not exposed to extreme changes in temperature. For instance, I live in New Jersey where the summers can get hot and the winters really cold. Therefore, I would never store my guitar in the garage. A closet inside the house or a temperature controlled basement/attic is a much better option.
3. Avoid humidity
Pretty much the same goes for locations where it can get really humid. Occasionally, I used our garage to record guitar tutorials. I remember leaving my western guitar in the garage for three weeks during recording. The neck warped plus the strings and hardware got rusty. That taught me a lesson.
Alright, that wraps up my tips regarding how to store a guitar for long periods of time. But what about just putting your guitar away for a little while?
The best way to store guitars for shorter time stretches are either guitar stands or guitar wall mounts. While neither of these options offer 100% protection, they definitely mitigate the risk of your instrument getting damaged. Wall mounts are especially interesting if you want to avoid your kids ‘playing with’ your guitar. Or your dogs deciding to use your precious axe as their new toy! Just hang them up high enough and out of reach, and you got another problem solved. However, make sure that the guitar hanger is securely mounted on to the wall. Use the right kind of anchors, otherwise you’ll find your instrument smashed on the floor – it happened to me! Lastly, guitar mounts are also great space savers!
One last point: if you store your guitar for longer time periods, you should loosen the strings, just a little bit, not too much, though. Just a couple of turns on each string is fine. That way you take tension off the neck which is recommendable when putting your guitar away for a while.
That’s it. Of course, the above is by no means gospel with regard as to how to store a guitar properly. This is just the way I’ve doing it in the past and it has been working for me.